The ACLU-MN recently wrote a law review article that laid out a clear analysis for why driver's licenses should be available to all Minnesota residents, regardless of immigration status.
This issues is likely to come up in the current Minnesota Legislative Session, and the ACLU hopes to see new legislation passed extending the driver's license privilege.
Below is a summary, the full article is available online from William Mitchell's Law Raza Journal.
Racial profiling is a pervasive issue for immigrants in the United States, and it is becoming increasingly problematic for Latinos living and working in the predominantly rural communities of Greater Minnesota. Reports from throughout the state indicate that Latinos are disproportionately targeted by the police on a regular basis.
In recent years, immigrants' rights advocates have lobbied the Minnesota Legislature in support of a change in the law that would allow all Minnesota residents to obtain a driver's license regardless of immigration status. Advocates have raised numerous arguments in support of expanding the driver's license privilege, including its benefits to public safety, increasing the percentage of insured drivers, and allowing for increased participation in society. Often overlooked in this discussion is the effect that expanding the privilege could have on decreasing instances of the racial profiling of Latino residents.
This article begins with a discussion of the work of the American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU"), and its Minnesota affiliate, relating to immigrants' rights. Next, this article provides an overview of current federal and state laws dealing with racial profiling. This discussion of current laws will focus on law enforcement stops of Latino drivers. Third, this article analyzes the debate over providing driver's licenses to state residents regardless of immigration status. Finally, this article concludes that, given the current state of racial profiling law, allowing a driver's license privilege to all Minnesota residents is sound public policy that has the potential to decrease instances of racial profiling.